Cleveland Cavaliers guard Mo Williams didn’t know this week’s one-year anniversary of such a memorable night approaches until someone reminded him Friday. But he doesn’t have to look far to remember the game in which he scored 52 points for the Timberwolves at Indiana last January.
He wears on it on his chest every game night this season.
Williams now wears his longtime No. 25 in reverse as 52, partly because the Cavaliers already had retired 25 in honor of Mark Price but mostly a reminder of that unforgettable shooting night.
Those 52 points are a team record, as are the 37 points he scored in a second half that ended a 15-game losing streak. The one-year anniversary is Wednesday.
“That was a good time in my life,” Williams said.
A day that ended so remarkably — with Williams scoring 16 points in the third quarter and 21 in the fourth — started inauspiciously.
“My memory of it is, I didn’t warm up before the game,” he said. “It was a cold day in Indiana and there was a shootaround and after the shootaround, my energy was low so I took a long, long nap. I’m always on the first bus, I get on the second bus. I get to the gym. Mentally, I had to lock in. Physically, I just laid on the floor, scrolled down my social media, scrolled through some texts, listened to some music. I didn’t go out and warm up. I got me a stretch and went out and played the game.”
He scored six points in the first quarter and nine points in the second, what he called “just a normal, good half.” Then came the second half and a feeling he described later that night as “shooting it in the Pacific” and warned Indiana’s C.J. Watson there was no need to defend him.
“The third quarter comes along and I realized I had it going because I was just making shots, I was making tough shots,” Williams said. “The first half was basically basketball shots. The third quarter was more like heat-check shots. Then the fourth quarter was like, I’m-shooting-it-no-matter-what shots. And they were going in.”
When the Wolves trailed by six after three quarters, Williams went to the bench and told teammates they weren’t losing that night. When he was done shooting, the Wolves had won 110-101, their first victory in more than a month.
Williams went 19-for-33 from the field, including 6-for-11 on three-pointers, even if now he doesn’t specifically recall missing a shot.
“It didn’t really hit me until after the game, to be honest,” he said. “My teammates were feeling it a lot more before I did. Even when I wasn’t in the play and somebody had a layup, they’d be looking for me. So they got caught up in the moment, too.”
Wolves point guard Ricky Rubio got caught up even though he was in a doctor’s office 1,800 miles away getting his injured ankle examined in Los Angeles.
“I couldn’t watch that game, it was the only game I missed,” Rubio said. “I was following on my phone and I kept checking the score and I was like, ‘52, that must be wrong.’ ”
It wasn’t, of course.
“And to look back, it was less than a year ago; it gives me a lot of confidence in myself that I still got it,” said Williams, whose role with the Cavaliers has diminished since Kyrie Irving’s return from injury last month. “I have no qualms about that night. God blessed me with the opportunity to make history. No woulda, coulda, shoulda’s that night. I think I left it all out there.”
NBA SHORT TAKES
Portland’s C.J. McCollum missed Wednesday’s 11-point home loss to the Clippers after he was mistakenly listed as inactive in a lineup gaffe the team called a “clerical error.” Coach Terry Stotts signed a lineup sheet that listed McCollum rather than Luis Montero — the name right underneath McCollum’s — as inactive.
Stotts took responsibility for the mistake, McCollum called it “unfortunate,” and Clippers coach Doc Rivers, whose team has made that error twice in the past year, questioned why there’s even an active list. Montero wore street clothes at the game’s start and McCollum was in uniform. They switched later in the first half after the error was realized.
A heartfelt gesture
Boston coach Brad Stevens missed Thursday’s loss at Chicago so he could return to Indiana to visit former Butler center Andrew Smith, a three-year starter who played on Stevens’ Final Four teams in 2010 and ’11 and has fought cancer the past two years.
Smith’s father, Curt, asked his Twitter followers to “pray for a miracle” and thanked Stevens for visiting his son.
Detroit’s Stan Van Gundy coached Tayshaun Prince for 23 games at the end of last season and played him nearly 25 minutes a game. So he’s not surprised in the least the significant role Prince, even at age 35, has taken with the Wolves alongside Kevin Garentt this season.
“He’s a smart guy,” Van Gundy said. “He gives them some stability on the floor, good defender, doesn’t make mistakes, knows how to play the game. He and Garnett are perfect fits for them with their young guys. It just gives them some stability and experience on the floor. I’m not surprised at all with that.”
WOLVES’ WEEK AHEAD
Sunday: 4 p.m. vs. Dallas (FSN). Tuesday: 7 p.m. vs. Oklahoma City (FSN). Wednesday: 7 p.m. at Houston (FSN). Friday: 6 p.m. at Oklahoma City (ESPN).
Player to watch: Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City
The Wolves get two looks within three days at a guy who scored at least 20 points in the past 22 games he has played. Overlooked perhaps because of injuries this season and last, Durant remains the league’s second-best player.
“It’s OK, but they gave me a bowl cut.” — Wolves guard Zach LaVine after posing last week with a bobblehead doll made in his likeness — except maybe for the haircut — the Wolves will give away at a Jan. 23 game against Memphis.